Clearview FCU Enhances Interactive Teller Machines' Role After Pandemic Push
By Roy Urrico
Over the last four decades, overwhelming circumstances accelerated financial technology’s evolution, with the latest crisis, the pandemic, fast-tracking banking through interactive teller machines (ITMs).
Before the 1970s, most banking took place during business hours with the aid of tellers and pens chained to desks. In 1977, Citibank invested some $100 million in introducing Citicard Banking Centers, featuring automated teller machines (ATMs) throughout New York City. Nobody rushed to use these 24/7 self-service units until 1978 when two massive snow storms helped escalate ATM use by 20%. The positive response helped usher in a national ATM boom.
ITMs, the real-time video/audio version (and progeny) of ATMs, allow centrally based tellers to interact with customers through self-service kiosks. Atlanta-based enterprise technology provider NCR told Finopotamus that its ITMs allowed credit unions and other financial institutions to expand banking hours and their geographical footprint pre-pandemic, but became critical for transactions with the onset of COVID-19 and social distancing protocols.
“NCR’s ITMs provide robust ATM self-service capabilities, as well as assisted service via a live teller. Tellers work in a contact center or remotely to serve multiple machines and locations at the same time, creating operational efficiencies,” said Terry Duffy, senior vice president and general manager, self-service banking group at NCR.
Pandemic Situation Changed Clearview FCU’s Roadmap
For the Pittsburgh-metro based Clearview Federal Credit Union, which deployed its first ITM some six years ago, its pandemic’s banking response reinforced its confidence and investment in digital, self-service banking.
“The pandemic reinforced what we've firmly believed for a while: The future is digital-first banking,” Lisa Florian, senior vice president member experience, digital strategy and marketing, for the $1.8 billion Moon Township, Penn.-based Clearview Federal Credit Union, told Finopotamus.” At Clearview, we understand that our competition isn't the credit union down the street but large national banks and digital disruptors.”
In addition, the credit union doubled down on digital investments and initiatives and continues to see its members positively respond and increase engagement. “NCR's ITMs enabled us, throughout the pandemic and now beyond, to drive greater convenience and accessibility for members, allowing them to complete the majority of transactions through self-service while also having the option to spend face time with employees via video banking,” said Florian.
A sign of a return to banking normalcy is in the ITM statistics. “Overall, our ITM usage has reduced from 2021. The primary reason for this is the slow of the pandemic. Folks are returning to the branches to do their banking.” Florian added. When reviewing the credit union’s average call length, she noted that the average call has gone down by 2.5 minutes or 27%. On the other hand, member (ITM) adoption rates increased by nearly 8.9% from 2019-2022. “These results reflect that as our members become more comfortable with the technology; we have the ability to more efficiently serve them.”
Video Advocates Help ITM Users
“Our digital strategy is to ensure that the majority of activities members conduct in the branch can also be performed through digital, self-service channels,” said Florian, who told Finopotamus that Clearview deployed its first ITM in 2016.
“Since then, we have increased that number to 21 and added remote video banking (via phone or desktop) into our suite of video banking solutions.” Florian added, “We anticipate including ITMs in all of our new locations going forward.” Currently, Clearview has 18 locations.
In addition, the credit union has 10 personal video advocates advising its members. “By making personal video advocates available through our video banking solutions, our members can receive the guidance and support they need for their finances from the comfort of their homes or any location they choose.”
Because financial health and wellness are top priorities at Clearview, “We didn't want guidance limited to in-branch interactions,” said Florian. “With Clearview Live, available through our app and NCR ITMs, members gain a convenient, personalized experience to help them improve their financial fitness.”
How Do NCR’s ITMs Work?
NCR’s ITMs provide robust ATM self-service capabilities, as well as assisted service via a live teller, explained Duffy. “Tellers work in a contact center or remotely to serve multiple machines and locations at the same time, creating operational efficiencies. The teller remotely assists via video with transactions such as payments for loans or credit cards using cash; complex transactions such as deposits into multiple accounts; check cashing, mixed cash and check deposits; customer service inquiries and account opening; no card present authentication; withdrawal over ATM limit; and teller advisory, referral and cross-sell. We have over 14,000 ITMs enabled at more than 600 financial institutions in over 20 countries across the globe.”
Duffy also said with NCR’s technology, institutions have experienced a 50% reduction in branch operating costs, up to 31 hours increase in teller availability, and an 86% increase in banking service hours.
Duffy also pointed out, “As our technology capabilities evolve, our customers will have the option of either in-house or cloud-based.”
Typical ITM Use Cases Now and Impending
ITMs offer a range of self-service options such as check depositing, cash withdrawals, account origination and making loan payments, along with the ability to communicate directly with tellers via video conferences. Customer demand combined with financial institutions’ need to deploy more machines, reconfigure and transform some of their physical space, and respond to the economic impact of the pandemic, ignited a growth spurt of self-service capabilities.
Duffy said for credit unions, use of interactive self-service provides the organizations with new ways to transform branch strategies and at the same time create exceptional experiences. “With ITMs, credit unions today can move time-consuming routine transactions to self-service touchpoints, including check cashing and deposit, statement generation and printing, identity scan, signature capture, bill payments, fast cash, etc. Credit unions are also increasingly expanding functionality, enabling actions such as mobile pre-staging and targeted marketing.”
Duffy explained to Finopotamus that many financial institutions are also using the ITM digital environment as part of new formats and for the implementation of new purpose-built branches focusing on Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) locations, and/or within hospitals, grocery, education, residential, office complex, commercial location, manufacturing and military. “They can be deployed in different formats such as in the branch interior or vestibules (partially integrated or fully integrated), drive up lanes and standalone drive up,” said Duffy.
Moving forward, NCR expects more financial institutions to outsource the self-service channel, relying on a trusted partner to take on all aspects of ATM/ITM operations including distribution, installation, maintenance and cash management, thus lifting the burden from credit unions. “Such a model presents many benefits; credit unions can reduce costs and complexity, innovate faster, mitigate risk and enhance regulatory posture,” maintained Duffy. “At the same time, members gain expanded functionality, greater availability, and more convenience to bank when, where and how they choose.”